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    After a Heart Attack

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    Cardiac Rehab

    Many hospitals have a rehabilitation program that you can participate in as an outpatient. Or your doctor may refer you to a heart center that runs a cardiac rehabilitation program. Taking part in a program offers several important benefits:

    • It will help speed up your recovery.
    • You will work with people who specialize in heart health. They will show you ways to make positive changes in your life that can protect and strengthen your heart.
    • You'll take part in activities that improve the way your heart functions and reduce your heart rate.
    • By following through outside of rehab on what you learn, you'll reduce your chance of developing complications or dying from heart disease.

    Most cardiac rehab programs consist of three parts:

    Making Changes to Reduce Heart Risk

    Make these changes to help reduce your risk of heart attack and heart disease:

    Read on for some specific advice on how to make those changes.

    Stop Smoking

    If you smoke, the single most important thing you can do -- not just for your heart but for your entire system -- is to stop. It's also one of the hardest changes to make. But your doctor can help. Ask your doctor about:

    • A plan and guidance for giving up smoking
    • Alternatives to tobacco, such as nicotine gum, patches, and prescription medicines
    • Support groups and programs designed to help people quit
    • Resources either in print or online that you can use to bolster your efforts

    Just because you've tried before doesn't mean you can't quit now. Most people have to quit a number of times before they quit for good.

    It's important to insist that people not smoke in your home. And try to avoid places where smokers gather. Secondhand smoke is a risk factor for heart disease.

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